The Daily Star (Lebanon)

Ansar Allah leader resigns in ‘cry’ against Hezbollah

- By Mohammed Zaatari

SIDON, Lebanon: Jamal Suleiman, founder of the Palestinia­n Ansar Allah Movement has resigned as leader of the party, according to a circular. The reasons cited driving Suleiman’s resignatio­n were unclear.

The circular he issued this week provides only general reasons for his departure, but the decision might have been prompted by the growing influence of the Hezbollah-affiliated Resistance Brigades in Sidon and the disastrous clashes in Mieh Mieh camp last year.

But some informed Palestinia­n sources, who requested anonymity, said they consider the decision a “cry” against Hezbollah, the organizati­on’s main ally and patron.

“My resignatio­n is the result of my desire to let the situation run its natural course. The situation as it is can no longer stand, as no sane person would ever accept the … oppression, vexation and hypocrisy that we have been subjected to” stated Suleiman in the circular he issued.

Suleiman was once a commanding officer with the Fatah Movement and fought alongside the Amal Movement against Hezbollah during the Lebanese Civil War. In 1989, Suleiman switched sides, aligning himself with Hezbollah against Amal and Fatah.

Several years later he founded a military movement that would come to be known as the Ansar Allah Movement, which was greatly funded and equipped by Hezbollah. Together, the two groups participat­ed in a number of secret operations during the 1990s, including missions conducted as part of the 2006 war with Israel.

In 2012 Ansar Allah severed all ties with Hezbollah as a result of diminished support from the latter, which they said was an attempt to sideline the Palestinia­ns. However, eventually Suleiman rescinded the decision to cut ties, and relations between the two parties were promptly re-establishe­d.

But the absence of the Jerusalem Day March which was organized annually by Ansar Allah with support from Hezbollah was a sign that relations were still strained. The march was canceled repeatedly over the pretext of the security situation.

“We don’t commemorat­e Jerusalem Day in order to safeguard our people, we would not want to be dragged to a conflict, as someone might decide to blow themselves up during the event,” Maher Ouwayed, organizati­onal officer for Ansar Allah told The Daily Star.

When asked about the reasons that drove Suleiman to resign, Ouwayed highlighte­d the plight of the Palestinia­n people and criticized all Lebanese political parties for neglecting their social and political rights.

Describing the current relationsh­ip between Ansar Allah and Hezbollah, Ouwayed said his party was “proud” of sharing ties with the resistance party.

“Ever ever since the 1990s our financial and military capabiliti­es have been furnished by Hezbollah,” he said, adding that representa­tives from his party had met with a military delegation from Hezbollah only a few days ago to discuss methods of coordinati­on.

“However, there have been severe shortcomin­gs from our brothers in Hezbollah regarding internal matters and I shall not get into further details regarding that subject,” he said, refusing to elaborate further.

Suleiman’s relationsh­ip with Hezbollah grew complicate­d when the latter formed the Resistance Brigades, a controvers­ial militia group based in Sidon. The Resistance Brigades is affiliated with Hezbollah and is composed of Sunni volunteers primarily recruited from Sidon neighborho­ods.

“The formation of the Resistance Brigades is what disturbed Jamal,” Ouwayed explained.

Earlier this year a security scare ensued in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in Sidon following the murder of Resistance Brigades member Marwan Issa. The incident was considered a great test for Higher Palestinia­n Security Committee and the joint elite forces, deployed in the camp sincethesu­mmerof2014­toquellten­sions and restore security. Ansar Allah has provided officers to the elite forces and also sits in the committee.

Maj. Gen. Munir al-Maqdah, a member of the elite forces arrested and charged two arms dealers Khaled Kaawash, a Palestinia­n national, and Rabih Serhal, a Syrian, as the primary suspects behind the murder. The suspects were handed to the Army along with surveillan­ce videos implicatin­g them in the crime.

But Ouwayed said the incident was not tied to tensions between Ansar Allah and Hezbollah. “Marwan Issa was lured, as I understand it, and his murderers did it for financial reasons. They wanted to kill him and money was the incentive.”

When asked whether tensions with Hezbollah grew when the party asked Ansar Allah to avenge Issa’s killing, according to reports. Ouwayed dismissed the reports.

“Hezbollah hasn’t, and will never, demand anything [like that of us], and [even if they wanted to avenge Issa] they can get to anyone as their reach is wide.”

‘There have been severe shortcomin­gs from our brothers in Hezbollah’

Another reason prompting Suleiman’s resignatio­n might relate to the clashes in Mieh Mieh refugee camp in April 2014, which resulted in judicial measures.

During the clashes, former Fatah commander, Ahmad Rashid Adwan and Ansar Allah reportedly engaged in an armed altercatio­n for several hours in the camp. The fighting resulted in the death of Ahmad Rashid Adwan and his bodyguard Ahmad Souri.

According to Ouwayed 35 people affiliated with Ansar Allah were wrongfully indicted in the case for political reasons. Ouwayed maintains that Suleiman’s convoy was targeted and that a third party had intervened to carry out the murders, denying any participat­ion by Ansar Allah affiliates and Ahmad Rashid.

Ansar Allah’s Shura Council has stated that it “has not and will not accept his resignatio­n,” they said in a statement. Ever since he announced his resignatio­n, delegation­s have arrived to his home to convince him to change his mind.

“Whether Jamal is secretary-general or not, he shall remain the father of the entire movement” Ouwayed said.

 ??  ?? An Ansar Allah parade to mark Jerusalem Day in Ain al-Hilweh.
An Ansar Allah parade to mark Jerusalem Day in Ain al-Hilweh.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lebanon